Last Saturday, the second annual Chambana Cranksgiving collected 888 pounds of food for Eastern Illinois Food Bank. 34 riders (and several others who didn't participate in the event, but donated food) crisscrossed Champaign and Urbana, visiting local grocery stores and purchasing non-perishable food items.
The weather and amount of food collected were far superior to last year's event, even if competing with a home Illinois football game meant a small decline in attendance. Sunshine and highs in the 60s meant that those that came out had about as pleasant of riding conditions as you could ask for on a mid-November day.
"When we first started to plan this year's Cranksgiving, we were a bit disheartened to hear the calculation from The Eastern Illinois Foodbank which estimates that local hungry families' need for food has increased 30 percent from last year," said event organizers Luke Thompson and Pieta Horvath Thompson. "However, our cyclists, sponsors, and donors certainly stepped up to the challenge, and hauled 888 pounds of nonperishable food across the finish line — more than 30 percent above last year's total of 613 pounds."
Riders traveled to supermarkets in three zones of Champaign-Urbana, traveling an average of 15 miles total, and picking up different courses of a Thanksgiving meal, from corn to boxed potatoes, canned turkey to cranberry sauce. Participants were awarded prizes provided by the event's sponsors based on their point total, which was calculated through a combination of how many food items they collected, plus bonuses for things like time and accumulating an entire Thanksgiving spread.
Local sponsors this year included Common Ground Food Co-op, Strawberry Fields, Schnucks, Pekara, Sandella's Flatbread Cafe, Noodles, The Pita Pit, El Duke Degreaser, and That's Rentertainment; more national sponsors included Wald, Burro Bags, Urban Velo, and Yanco Pads.
Eternal thanks to Charlie Smyth for providing the photos.